Friday, February 19, 2021

"Bewitched": "Humbug Not to Be Spoken Here" (1967): Review by William Mortensen Vaughan

Title"Bewitched":  "Humbug Not to Be Spoken Here"

AdaptationStarring Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stevens, and Charles Lane as Jessie Mortimer, "the Scrooge."

Dates and Places of Earliest Release:  
TUE, 21 DEC 1967 U.S.A.
 
My Rating** (Substandard)

Format Reviewed
live-action T.V. episode, on VHS
 
Runtime:  30 minutes
 
Availability:  
As of February 19, 2021, copies of Season 4 of this series, on DVD, are available, online, for approximately $15 U.S. Dollars.

Is this adaptation reverent? 
No, this adaptation is not particularly reverent.  It includes Santa Claus, and panders to commercialism.

Does this adaptation mention "God" or "Christ"?  No.
 
Does this adaptation include the phrase "God bless us...?"  No.

What does my wife think of
this adaptation?
She think it's one of the "dumbest shows" she has ever seen.

Where and when does this adaptation take place?
The U.S.A., circa 1970.
 
What language and/or dialects are used?  
American English

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens?
This adaptation does not follow the original novel very closelyThe scene is set when Darrin's boss (Dick York and David White, respectively) tries to impress Jessie Mortimer (Charles Lane) enough to win a $500,000 contract by having Darrin work late on Christmas Eve.  Darrin refuses, and loses the contract.

Darrin's wife, who puts the "witch" in "Bewitched," pays Mr. Mortimer a visit in his bedroom on Christmas Eve, identifying herself to him as a witch, and taking him, on a broomstick decorated for Christmas, to visit her friend in the North Pole, Santa Claus (Don Beddoe).

Then Santa takes them for a ride in his sleigh, as he delivers Christmas presents.  He shows Mr. Mortimer how happy his employee, Hawkins (Martin Ashe) is, even though he's poor.

The next day, Mr. Mortimer appears at Darrin's front door with a Christmas present and an apology.
   
Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel?  No.

Is this adaptation supernatural? 
Yes, this film features witchcraft, magic, and Santa Claus.

Is this adaptation "framed"? 
No.
 
Is this adaptation a musical?  No.
 
What songs and/or dances are included?  
Music by Warren Barker...

How attractive and effective is the visual art?  
The set, wardrobe, and art are adequate.

How creative and intense are the transitions, especially when "the Scrooge" is taken from one time and/or place to another?
The transitions are poorly doneThe characters look stiff during the broomstick and sleigh flights, as if sitting still while snow is blown past them with a fan.
 
What aerial and/or nap-of-the-earth footage is included? 
Yes. (See above.)   
 
What use is made of background extras?  
Little use, if any, is made of background extras.

What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptation? 
The most remarkable thing about this adaptation is, perhaps, how much emphasis is placed on Santa Claus, and how little emphasis is placed on Mortimer and Hawkins.  Mortimer's cold heart is turned, just by seeing Hawkins playing happily with his wife and child, even though he's poor.
 
What bonus material is included on the tape or DVD?  N/A

A Christmas Carol (1984), Starring George C. Scott: Review by William Mortensen Vaughan

TitleA Christmas Carol

AdaptationStarring George C. Scott as "the Scrooge"

Dates and Places of Earliest Release:  
FRI, 23 NOV 1984, U.K.
MON, 17 DEC 1984, U.S.A.
 
My Rating****

Format Reviewed
live-action, feature-length film, on DVD
 
Runtime:  100 minutes
 
Availability:  
As of February 19, 2021, copies of this film, on DVD, are available, online, for approximately $10 U.S. Dollars.

Is this adaptation reverent? 
Yes, this adaptation is reverent, starting with a rendition of the hymn "On Christmas Night All Angels Sing." 

Does this adaptation mention "God" or "Christ"?
Yes. (See above/below.)
 
Does this adaptation include the phrase "God bless us...?" 
Yes, Tim Cratchit says, "God bless us, everyone!"

What does my wife think of
this adaptation?
She
likes it.

Where and when does this adaptation take place?
Victorian England
 
What language and/or dialects are used?  
English.

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens?
This adaptation follows the original novel fairly well. It begins with a narrator (Roger Rees) stating that Marley (Frank Finlay) is dead.  Fred (also played by Roger Rees) visits Scrooge in his office on Christmas Eve.  The portly gentlemen seeking a donation do not.  Scrooge leaves Bob Cratchit (David Warner) working in his office, while he goes to the Exchange.  En route, he discovers Tiny Tim Cratchit (Anthony Walters) waiting for his father.

At the exchange, in a scene not included in the original novel, Scrooge sells his corn to some businessmen.


After closing the corn deal, Misters Poole and Hacking (Michael Gough and John Quarmby, respectively) introduce themselves to Mr. Scrooge, seeking a donation.

Bob closes shop without Scrooge, and takes Tiny Tim to Cornhill to watch the other boys play in the snow and slide on the ice.

Meanwhile, Scrooge returns home, where he sees Marley's face on his door knocker. Jacob Marley appears, but does not show Scrooge the other ghosts, although Scrooge hears them as Marley departs through his window.

The Ghost of Christmas Past (Angela Pleasance) appears, and takes Ebenezer back to one of his lonely Christmases at a boarding school, where old Scrooge tells the Ghost that his father held a grudge against him because his wife (Scrooge's mother) died giving birth to him.

Then Fan (Joanne Whalley) appears to Scrooge after he has become a young man (Mark Strickson), and takes Scrooge outside the school, where their father (Nigel Davenport) is waiting for them, and where he informs Scrooge that he will begin working for Mr. Fezziwig (Timothy Bateson) as an apprentice three days later.

As their carriage departs, old Scrooge and the Ghost remain, discussing Fan and her son, whom Scrooge identifies as Fred Holywell, although his surname was never given in the original novel.

Then the Ghost takes Scrooge to Mr. Fezziwig's place of business, where his young self and Dick Wilkins (Spencer Banks) celebrate Christmas with their old boss, his wife (Pat Rose) and their three daughters, their suitors, and Belle (Lucy Gutteridge).

Then the Ghost shows Ebenezer the day Belle broke off their engagement to be married, and another day, when she is playing outside in the snow with her children as her husband (Peter Settelen) approaches, and informs her that he saw Ebenezer, whose partner was about to die.

Then Scrooge meets the Ghost of Christmas Present (Edward Woodard) who takes him into the streets on Christmas Day, and to the home of Bob Cratchit, where Bob informs his son, Peter (Kieran Hughes) that Fred has offered him (Peter) a job as an apprentice for three Shillings and six Pence a week.

Then the Ghost takes Scrooge to his nephew's Christmas Party, where one of the guests mocks him.

Afterward, the Ghost takes Scrooge to the streets, where he hears a homeless family discussing their limited options.  

The Ghost also shows Scrooge the wretched children under his robe.

Then the Ghost leaves Scrooge in the street, cold and alone in the dark, in a place unfamiliar to him, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come appears to him.

First, this Ghost shows him the Exchange, where three businessmen discuss his death.

Secondly, the Ghost takes him into his own home, where his corpse apparently lies under a sheet.

Thirdly, the Ghost takes him to old Joe (Peter Woodthorpe's) pawn shop, where's Mrs. Dilber (Liz Smith) sells Scrooge's belongings.

Finally, the Ghost takes Scrooge to his tombstone.

Back in his room, Scrooge discovers it's Christmas Day.  After having a boy fetch the poulterer, Scrooge takes a walk, dropping money in the can of some carolers, and pledging a donation to the portly gentlemen whom he happens to pass on the street.

Another scene shows the poulterer delivering the prize turkey to Bob Cratchit's house, where he explains that it was paid for by an anonymous benefactor.  The poulterer doesn't take a cab; he drives his own carriage. 

Finally, Scrooge visits his nephew for Christmas Dinner.

The next morning, he waits for Bob to arrive late, only to double his salary, and promise to help him ensure that Tim's health would improve.
 
Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel?  No.


Is this adaptation supernatural? 
Yes, this film features ghosts and time travel.

Is this adaptation "framed"?
  No. 

Is this adaptation a musical?  No.
 
What songs and/or dances are included?  
Music by Nick Bic√Ęt... In addition to "On Christmas Night All Christians Sing," carolers sing "I Saw Three Ships," as well as "Peace on Earth/God Bless Us Everyone," which was apparently written specifically for this adaptation.

How attractive and effective is the visual art?  
The sets, wardrobe, and architecture are excellent.

How creative and intense are the transitions, especially when "the Scrooge" is taken from one time and/or place to another?
The transitions are adequate.  The Ghost of Christmas Past shows scenes from the past in the reflection of her cap.  The Ghost of Christmas Present shows scenes in the flames of his torch.  The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come changes scenes with bolts of lightning and claps of thunder.
 
What aerial and/or nap-of-the-earth footage is included?  
T.B.D.
 
What use is made of background extras?  
(Give specific examples of scenes with adequate or inadequate numbers of background extras.)

What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptation? 
The most remarkable thing about this adaptation is, perhaps, the song "Peace on Earth/God Bless Us Everyone," which is played repeatedly throughout the film.
 
Of course, it is also remarkable that George C. Scott stars in this adaptation, but this is part of why it doesn't "work" for me; he will always be General George S. Patton to me.
 
What bonus material is included on the tape or DVD? 
T.B.D.

A Christmas Carol (1982), Featuring the Guthrie Theater: Review by William Mortensen Vaughan

 TitleA Christmas Carol

AdaptationStarring Richard Hilger as Ebenezer Scrooge

Dates and Places of Earliest Release:  
1982 U.S.A.
 
My Rating****

Format Reviewed
live-action, feature-length film of a stage play, ON VHS
 
Runtime:  87 minutes
 
Availability:  
As of February 19, 2021, copies of this film, on VHS, are available, online, for approximately $275 U.S. Dollars.

Is this adaptation reverent? 
Yes, this adaptation is reverent, with carolers singing portions of "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen!" and "Good King Wenceslas."

Does this adaptation mention "God" or "Christ"?
Yes. (See above/below.)
 
Does this adaptation include the phrase "God bless us...?" 
Yes, Tiny Tim and Mrs. Dickens say, "God bless us, everyone!"

What does my wife think of
this adaptation?
She refuses to watch it, because she doesn't like musicals.

Where and when does this adaptation take place?
Victorian England
 
What language and/or dialects are used?  
English

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens?

This adaptation follows the original novel fairly well.  There are a few departures from the original novel, however.  The scene at Old Joe's pawn shop is missing; a funeral procession for Scrooge is added.  Young Scrooge proposes to Belle the day before he begins working for Mr. Fezziwig.  In a later scene, Mr. Fezziwig concludes his Christmas Ball as soon as Belle arrives, to allow her to be alone with Scrooge, an opportunity she takes to break off her engagement to Scrooge.  Previously, when Scrooge is a boy, Fan visits him at school, but she tells him that she snuck away from their father to give him a Christmas present, and has to return before he misses her.
 
Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel?  No.

Is this adaptation supernatural? 
Yes, this film features ghosts and time travel.

Is this adaptation "framed"?  
Yes, this adaptation is framed by Charles Dickens writing and reading his novel at his desk, as his family tries to celebrate Christmas with him.

Is this adaptation a musical?  No.
 
What songs and/or dances are included?  
(See above.)

How attractive and effective is the visual art?  
The set, wardrobe, and architecture/art are adequateThe desks are misshapen and slanted at odd angles, so it looks as if paperweights would slide off of them.

How creative and intense are the transitions, especially when "the Scrooge" is taken from one time and/or place to another?
The transitions are adequate.  This film is an odd combination of stage play and special film effects.
 
What aerial and/or nap-of-the-earth footage is included?  N/A 
 
What use is made of background extras?  
Adequate use is made of background extras.

What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptation? 
The most remarkable thing about this adaptation is, perhaps, the use of a paperweight on Charles Dickens' desk, which later appears in the story when Fan gives it to young Scrooge for a Christmas present, after a scene in which old Scrooge throws it at Fred.  Fred keeps it as a memento of his hateful Uncle, and shows it to his guests on Christmas.  Scrooge mentions it when he shows up at Fred's on Christmas Day, but tells Fred to keep it.
 
What bonus material is included on the tape or DVD?  N/A

Review by William Mortensen Vaughan